Pyongyang gets social
Uriminzokkiri.com, the closest thing North Korea has to an official home page, got social in July when it joined Twitter and Facebook.
The move generated lots of publicity and helped drive Internet users to follow its tweets and status-updates, but also drew the attention of the governments in Seoul and Washington.
Uriminzokkiri’s moves into social media began a few weeks earlier with the launch of a YouTube channel, but that was largely unnoticed. A few news organizations picked up on the launch including AFP, which provided a sense of the channel’s content.
One English-language video with a duration of five minutes and 56 seconds praised leader Kim Jong-Il, calling him as a “general sent by the heaven.”
Another clip posted a week ago berates South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan over his controversial remarks last month that young South Korean leftists should not enjoy freedom in the South but should live under Kim Jong-Il.
In mid-August Uriminzokkiri followed up with the launch of a Twitter feed (@uriminzok), and suddenly the world’s media began paying attention. Over the next few days tens of stories were published on the feed, which was used to send out Korean-language headlines and links to articles on the Uriminzokkiri Web site and links to the YouTube channel.
In my article, “North Korean Jumps onto Twitter,” I wrote about the first messages:
The first message was posted to the account on Aug. 12 and declared (in Korean) “The Web site ‘Our Nation’ is on Twitter.”
It was followed by three messages pointing to important documents: a 1997 essay written by defacto leader Kim Jong Il on reunification, the North-South Joint Declaration of June 15, 2000, and the declaration issued after the North-South summit of Oct. 4, 2007. Subsequent updates have pointed to recent news articles.
It didn’t take very long for Twitter users to start noticing the account and signing up to follow the tweets.
Among those who chimed in on the new account was Philip Crowley, a U.S. state department spokesman, who commented on his own Twitter account (@pjcrowley):
“The North Korean government has joined Twitter, but is it prepared to allow its citizens to be connected as well?”
Within a few days the account had amassed more than 10,000 followers, including some who appeared to be South Korean. The government in Seoul quickly reacted by warning users against following the account and put in place blocks on the page. The Chosun Ilbo reported “A tweet from Pyongyang could land you in jail“:
“In case the account is discovered to be owned by North Korea, replies to the posts or any form of communication with the account without taking the steps to report those actions carries the chance of violating the inter-Korea Exchange and Cooperation Act,” said Lee. Viewing the North Korean YouTube clips doesn’t violate the law.
The inter-Korea Exchange and Cooperation Act states any persons who take part in any exchange with North Korea can be subject to up to three years in prison or up to 10 million won ($8,520.79) in fines.
“Facebook is based on real people making real-world connections and people on Facebook will get the most value out of the site by using their real identity,” said Kumiko Hidaka, a spokeswoman for Facebook, by e-mail. “So posing as a person or entity you don’t officially represent is a violation of our policies, and that’s why those profiles in questions have been removed.”
I pressed Facebook and they explained it was all down to the type of account that had been set up. Uriminzokkiri should have created a page, not a personal account. The Web site hasn’t tried to create the account again, it remains down at time of writing, so it’s unclear if it will fall foul of some other restriction should it be created as a page.
Uriminzokkiri has come out swinging against the South Korean block, according to Daily NK. The Web site translated a post that called the Twitter block a “reckless infringement upon the right to know.”
“The South Chosun traitor factions are busily engaged in blocking the ‘Uriminjok’ accounts on You Tube and Twitter,” adding, “This is a stupid move that only computer-illiterates would do in the information age.”
Currently the Facebook group is still down, the YouTube channel continues to carry videos from Korean Central TV, and the Twitter channel is active with over 10,000 followers.
The Twitter channel has evolved in sophistication over its first few weeks. At first it posted full links to the Uriminzokkiri Web site, but soon caught on to URL shortners. In recent days it has begun replying to a few Twitter messages that have come in from followers.
No related posts.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Martyn Williams on September 5, 2010 at 17:46, and is filed under Internet, Social media. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
No comments yet.
No trackbacks yet.
about 2 months ago - 1 comment
The top U.S. commander in the Pacific region says he’s worried that North Korea’s continued missile tests are helping establish them as something that’s normal. Speaking during a news conference at The Pentagon on Tuesday, Admiral Sam Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said he was concerned that the international community was becoming “numb” to them.…
about 3 months ago - No comments
The planned expansion of the U.S. missile defense shield to guard against potential threats from North Korea and other nations will cost $5.8 billion over the coming years, according to an estimate released this week. The estimate was made by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in response to a question from Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator for…
about 3 months ago - 2 comments
The United States and several other nations have written to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) over North Korea’s failure to notify it of missile launches. Over the past couple of weeks, short and medium-range missile have been fired by North Korea into the sea to the east of the country on a handful of occasions. Each launch took place without a standard…
about 3 months ago - No comments
A U.S. interceptor missile system designed to deter and defend against missiles from North Korea and other nations will take a step forward this week when the U.S. Missile Defense Agency kicks off work on environmental impact statements on four proposed sites. On Wednesday, the MDA is expected to publish a notice informing residents in nearby neighborhoods of…
about 6 months ago - 1 comment
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) put out a call Tuesday for projects aimed at human rights and democracy in North Korea. DRL will fund winning proposals with grants of up to $350,000 per organization and groups have until May 13, 2014, to complete and submit their proposals. Proposals can cover…
about 8 months ago - 2 comments
Japan is sharing an increasing amount of intelligence information with the United States and emerging as a great partner in East Asia, the U.S. director of national intelligence said Thursday. Speaking during a public hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington, James Clapper said the two countries were working more closely together on intelligence…
about 10 months ago - 2 comments
The United Nations Human Rights agency said it is following with concern news coming out of Pyongyang that Jang Song Thaek was executed this week. “This underscores the arbitrary nature of the system in the DPRK and the absence of transparency and due process which is required for the rule of law,” said Ravina Shamdasani, a…
about 1 year ago - 1 comment
On Thursday, South Korea’s Yonhap reported on a new Facebook page in the name of the Korean Central Television, North Korea’s national TV station. (Updated. See below.) Yonhap said, “North Korea’s state broadcaster started real-time Facebook broadcasting as the communist country moves to expand its propaganda efforts into the social networking realm, official sources said Thursday.” In…
about 1 year ago - 2 comments
This week’s hack of the Uriminzokkiri website certainly raised the bar in the cyber battle currently playing out online. It marked the first time in the current round of attacks that anyone had managed to break in and deface a North Korean website. Over the last couple of weeks, several sites have been taken offline…
about 1 year ago - 6 comments
Uriminzokkiri, a China-based North Korean news website with close ties to Pyongyang, has been hacked. The site is currently inaccessible, companion websites have also been attacked and defaced, and it’s Twitter feed and Flickr pages have also been broken into. The hack came hours after a list of apparently 9,000 registered users of the site was…